March 2016 - Thailand

1 March 2016   Boat Lagoon, Phuket
We hired a car to do a bit of running around in the morning and in the afternoon; I went to the physiotherapist again for the last time.  The pulled muscle in my back is still giving me trouble, but my spine is much looser now.

Nai rang me as I was coming back to Boat Lagoon and wanted to meet me at the boat.  They’ve almost finished the sanding and she wants to install the deck hardware tomorrow.  She’s going to give me a couple of blokes who will install everything under my control (allegedly), so I cancelled the Volvo engineers who were going to start the engine.  I just had enough daylight to sand down the new varnish in the front cabin and apply anther coat.

I spent most of the evening, preparing for replacing the deck fittings; reviewing all the notes that I made when removing the parts and looking at the photographs that I took.  I made a check list and hope that I’m able to control the guys tomorrow. 

2 March 2016   Boat Lagoon, Phuket
I was up early and off to the boat, where I found four guys just starting work.  One was a carpenter, fitting hinges and handles on the lazarette lids; one guy was sanding the teak grab rails ready to replace on the coach roof and two guys were ominously wandering about with tools, itching to start installing deck fittings.

Fitting the genoa track

I started my two guys off on a simple u-bolt at the bow, to see what they did.  They drilled the holes okay, but I stopped them applying the bedding sealant (Sikaflex 291) until they had countersunk the holes in the teak.  I tried to explain by drawing a cross-section of the deck, but they didn’t understand, so I grabbed my drill and a countersink bit and did it for them.  Using simple English and a few drawings, I explained that the countersink holds more sealant and makes a kind of o-ring around the bolt.  They got it and after that they were diligent in making sure that every hole was countersunk.

I gave them some more simple fittings and went down below to remove the head-linings, so that we had access to the underside of the deck.  The biggest job was to fit the two genoa tracks which are 5 metres long and have 36 bolts each.  Ten minutes later, I popped up on deck to see how they were going and found them putting Sikaflex on the mast step, which I’d temporarily dry fitted.

I was not a happy bear because I wanted to do this (carefully) myself, so I made them clean off all the Sikaflex.  They were suitably chastened and for the rest of the day and asked permission to apply the Sikaflex for every fitting.

All was going well until the carpenter had finished his job and appeared down below with a drill in his hand and wanted to start drilling out the 72 holes for the genoa track.  Fortunately, I’d managed to remove the head-linings and he could get started.  By lunch time, they had dry fitted the port genoa track. 

After a quick lunch, I returned to find that my team had increased to six guys, all keenly brandishing drills and sealant guns.   It was barely-controlled chaos, but we managed to fit the two genoa tracks, the windlass, and most of the rest of the deck fittings.  

Nai popped on board and I showed her the mast step, which is bent in a curve, presumably by the force of the mast compressing the teak in the middle.  I was thinking of getting the carpenters to scallop out some of the teak to fit the curved shape, but Nai suggested that we get the plate straightened.   She’s apparently had this done before and, within fifteen minutes, an engineer had turned up and taken it away.

By the evening, I was exhausted, but pleased with the progress.

3 March 2016   Boat Lagoon, Phuket
I supervised the guys finishing off installing the decks fittings, carefully watching while they drilled 40mm holes in the deck for the fuel and water fillers.  The mast step turned up and is now perfectly flat on the bottom , so we fitted it in place with some Sikaflex and four new, longer bolts.  Later in the afternoon, they inspected the deck and carefully cut out and reinserted caulking sealant wherever there were any voids.

Small patches of caulking being rectified

Chart, the Volvo engineer came on board and started up the engine.  I’ve never run an engine on the hard, so I was interested to see that all he had to do was to open the sea water strainer and push a hosepipe into the hose leading to the engine’s sea water pump.  The engine started okay and Chart ran it for fifteen minutes, without any leaks (or horrible clunking noises...)  He says that he want to do another trial when we’re in the water.

I wired up the windlass, which went okay, but then I noticed that the stripper plate (which is supposed to be positioned in the middle of the gypsy) was actually touching the top of the gypsy.  I stripped down the gypsy assembly, but couldn’t seem anything.  I was puzzled - had the position of the stripper plate changed because the deck was now thicker?  I decided to leave it and think about what’s causing the problem. 

After lunch, I did some running about to get some pipe fittings to repair the sea water deck wash fitting, which I’d had to cut in half to get it out of the deck.  I only had time to do some small repairs on our four dorade vents before having to rub down and apply the third coat of varnish in the front cabin.

4 March 2016   Boat Lagoon, Phuket
I inspected the lid on the gas locker and found that the hinges were binding on the back edge preventing the lid from closing properly and putting strain on the hinges when the locker was locked.  Nai and Toe came to have a look at it and agreed that they should recess the hinges by 3mm.  Two hours later, the job was sorted  - these guys don’t hang about.

I spent most of the morning re-assembling the four dorade air-vents and fitting them in place on the coach-roof.  There are only two guys working on the deck now, so it was pleasant to potter about without the noise and bustle that I’ve endured over the past couple of weeks.  The remaining guys are quietly hand sanding the edges of the toe rail and cleaning up around the deck fittings.

After lunch, while checking the fit of the stern swim ladder, I noticed that there was a large gap where the hinges are on the aft lazarette locker lid.  All of the hatches have a consistent 4mm gap between the lids and the edge of the teak deck, apart from this lid which had a 8mm gap.  The fibreglass lid beneath the teak is actually a little small, and Nai’s team have trimmed the teak to the size of the locker lid.

The OCD gap on the lazarette locker lid

I pointed it out to Nai, who said that if they made the teak overhang any more then I would have problems with the edge splitting.  After a bit of debate, I’ve asked her to replace the edge teak and make the gap consistent.  I feel a little guilty about the extra work, just for a small 4mm change, but it offends my eye - perhaps I’m coming down with a case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. 

I spent an hour removing the rod kicker bracket from the mast, cleaning it up and preparing to drill holes in the backing plates, but ran out of time - a job for tomorrow.  For the final ninety minutes, I returned to the hated task of rubbing down and putting on the last coat of varnish in the front cabin.   

In the evening, I went to “Norsa” to help Norman and Sara with their sat phone, which has stopped working.  After an hour of messing about on her laptop, I managed to get it configured so that they can send and receive emails.  They are sailing to the Maldives in a couple of days and can now receive weather information, so they are happy.

Boat Lagoon were holding a night market event, so we strolled around picking at street food - squid balls, Vietnamese spring rolls, crab curry and then we picked up a chicken kebab and three samosas as we staggered back to our room to watch TV.  Not good for our cholesterol levels, but all very tasty.

5 March 2016   Boat Lagoon, Phuket
While checking our bank account, I noticed a few strange transactions on one of our credit cards that we don’t use very often and I wasted an hour skyping our bank to report the transactions as fraudulent.  Our credit card is now being cancelled and a replacement will be sent to our mailing address in the UK.  Of course the registration limit will expire before we get hold of the card, so we’ll have to go through the palaver of renewing it again when we get back to the UK in May.

The Selden parts to repair the in-mast roller reefing arrived, but I’ve foolishly ordered the wrong part number and one of the extrusions is 120mm shorter than the original.  Fortunately, the old extrusion is undamaged, so I was able to drill out the old pop rivets and rebuild the assembly to the correct length.  

I had to do the job twice because the spacing is so tight that Selden have milled recesses into the extrusions to take the pop rivet heads and, of course the pop rivets that I used have larger heads.  I eventually used my Dremel tool with a 3mm end-mill cutter to carefully cut the recesses larger and rivet it all back together again.   

To make matters more difficult, Selden have slightly changed the design of the other assembly, so instead of just having to just insert four pop rivets through a large access hole in the mast, I first had to drill out four pop rivets through the 15mm wide slot in the mast - a bit of stressful keyhole surgery.

After 6 hours of messing about, I finally had the assembly fitted to the mast and tried to tension the luff extrusion. This is a piece of aluminium about 1” diameter and 65 feet long.  The Selden manual says to lay the mast horizontally and tension the extrusion “so that it just touches the inside of the mast section at the half way point”.  

I started turning the adjustment screw, but it soon became hard to turn.   This is how I broke the furling gear a couple of weeks ago, so I was very worried when there was a couple of big bangs as the new pop rivets slipped a little.  I stopped the adjustment, but the extrusion is still resting on the inside of the mast for most of its length.  I’m not sure what to do now.

Nai threw people at the boat again.  We had one guy pottering about the deck sanding and cleaning up the deck fittings; a carpenter replacing the teak plank on the lazarette locker; two guys sanding the bottom of the hull; and three guys preparing the blue stripe on the cockpit for painting.

Bottom of keel stripped back to the lead

By the end of the day, the bottom six inches of the keel had been stripped down to the lead, a coat of etching primer had been applied and a coat of anti-fouling primer.  They had also sanded down the propeller and the bronze cutlass bearing housing and given that the same etching primer treatment. 

 I’ve never bothered to put antifouling on the propeller before, but this area of the world is dreadful for fouling and we’re not going to be moving very fast, so we need to do something.  There are specialist products like “Prop-Speed”, which costs about £150 for 200ml and I’ve heard mixed reports about it.  Mike from “Shakti” has had success with etching primer and normal antifoul paint, which is much cheaper, so I’m giving that a go. 

The painters have rubbed down the old paint stripe and sprayed on the primer (after covering most of the deck and cockpit with cling-film.)  The carpenter has fitted the teak plank to the lazarette locker lid and has caulked it all.  At this rate, we’ll easily be ready to launch by the target date of the 15th.

6 March 2016   Boat Lagoon, Phuket
We had another lazy Sunday, lurking inside.  Glenys spent most of the day researching places to visit when we cross the Indian Ocean next year.  We’re going to have to arrange visas for some of the countries and have to get special permission from the UK government to visit the remote islands of Chagos, so we want to be well prepared.

I had another frustrating day trying to upgrade our Joomla website.  I’ve managed to upgrade the software and database (by bodging it a little) but the templates for the layout are driving me crazy.  I must have spent three hours trying to get the popup window working on the template that I want to use but failed abysmally.  It was another frustrating Sunday, but we’ve got such good internet here that I have to keep persevering. 

With just over a week to go before we launch, I reviewed my To Do Lists and we’re looking okay.  Nai says that the deck and cockpit surround will be finished by the 9th March, the antifouling should be finished by the 10th March, so we can replace the mast on the 11th or 12th then I’d have a couple of days to tidy up before launching on Tuesday the 15th.  

I’ve still got some major jobs like fitting the rod kicker bracket, sorting out the windlass, fitting the window in the windscreen and I’m hoping to do some varnishing in the saloon, so I haven’t got any time to waste.